Friday, December 26, 2008

The MRML Top-Twenty-Two (2008)

(Thanks to Charles Schultz and WMFU's Beware of the Blog for the image)

To add to the saturated market of best of list's, I'll add one more dose of subjectivity, with the following caveat:
- I chose, smart, catchy and driving songs
from 2008, or thereabouts*, scrupulously avoiding songs that could be be described as, delicate, hushed or ethereal.

  1. Away From Here* (The Enemy) Did I ever tell you about that customer at the music store, back in the 90's who told me how he bought Black Crowes' albums, "To keep up with what's happening in music " and how I sneered at him? and yet who's here now claiming that retro-Jam worshipers like the Enemy represent some type of modernity. Damn me to hell. (Local Boy by The Rifles is more retro-Jam but it dates back to 2006.)
  2. Don't a Hear a Single (The Major Labels). Everything good about power-pop, from the kitsch-obsessed lyrics, to the layered vocals to those the busy arrangements full of verses, choruses, pre-choruses, bridges and whoknowswhatelse.
  3. Gimme More (The Peacocks) Sometimes a shot of psychobilly is what you need.
  4. Out of Ideas (Copyrights) In a disappointing year for pop-punk the Copyrights' sole lapse was not surpassing their previous album. That said, all of Learn the Hard Way - especially this song with it's "We're gonna roll with a punch-drunk love song" refrain - rips.
  5. Cupidity (Dopeamines) The Great White Hope of pop-punk ("We peaked with our demo") didn't quite deliver a full-length classic, though some raging pop songs did ensue.
  6. Bad Kids (Black Lips) An album's worth of this? Maybe not. But by its lonesome this is a novelty song with enough garage-rocking heft to have staying power. (Not be confused with I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You by the Black Kids which is actually a pretty fair retro-80's tune).
  7. Ladies of Cambridge (Vampire Weekend) "Overrated" is a weak word – it defines the quality of a work strictly based on a perceived level of popularity or esteem, both of which are, strictly speaking, beyond the artist's control. I added this b-side from the "Mansard Roof" single not only for the bringing the ska to the lethargic genre of indie-rock but because, unlike say, "A-Punk", fewer people will have rated it.
  8. What the Fuck (Carbon/Silicon) I think therefore I backtrack; yes, The Last Post is far better than The Clash Mk II's Cut the Crap - that being said, I know which album I will have played more times by the time I die from Mp3 poisoning.
  9. Boots of Chinese Plastic (Pretenders) Chrissy does Dylan.
  10. Who's Gonna Build Your Wall? (Tom Russell) Even if you think the designation "protest song of the year" isn't worth a pinch of shit this tex-folk broadside should not be missed.
  11. Add Me (Chumbawamba) Most people remember "Tubthumping", but I remember "Picture of Starving Children Sell Records" and this track, a savage but hummable attack on Generation Text. (Plus it's got the nastiest punch line of the year.)
  12. You’re Getting’ Married*(The Replacements) A gritty old ballad, newly revealed - like a lost Dylan masterpiece.
  13. Most of the Time*(Bob Dylan) In the hyperbole race critics have fought over Dylan these last few years, few hit the mark quite like, "Dylan throws away more masterpieces than most artists ever record". So, while Tell-Tale Signs is essential for Dylan appreciators and fanatics for the insight it gives us into his post 80's revival (and it keeps the vastly underrated Under the Red Sky in the narrative) perhaps two full CD's would be of less interest to casual listeners. Speaking of Dylan obscurities, check out Wagon Wheel, a re-write of a Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid outtake by Old Crow Medicine Show.
  14. I Dreamed I saw Billy Bragg (Yuri Gordon and the Goods) Billy gets added to a dream list that includes Joe Hill, St. Augustine and Phil Ochs but here, rather than being a ballad, it's done in double time.
  15. '59 sound (Gaslight Anthem) The single from what is certainly a contender for Album of the Year, if just for its anthemic choruses and the deliberately dated references - Marvin Gaye, Miles Davis and Mary-Lou - that comprise the lyrics. Unfortunately, I compile an "Underappreciated albums" list, a category into which the album does not fall.
  16. Three Sevens Clash (The Alarm) As mentioned in the Songs about Strumming post, this may be the best song the Alarm (who already have a passel of them) ever wrote.
  17. On the Clock (Methadones) A catchy, 1 minute and fifty-nine second "Goddamn Job" song from veteran Dan Schaefer which fuses Screeching Weasel punk with Bram Tchaikovsky pop.
  18. Never Miss a beat (Kaiser Chiefs). This band gets slagged for being a singles band - the CCR of whatever Britpop's being called at this second ("Indie landfill"?). Wake up Britain, the time has long since come time to bury the brothers Gallagher.
  19. I Wanna be the One (Yum-Yums) Pop-punk Beach Boys songs, with "Wanna-Wanna's" and "Whooo-ooohs" fill an ungluttable market.
  20. Children of the Lord (Slim Cessna) Gospel-punk anyone?
  21. Texas Cops (Tim Barry) Avail, after a stunning and original debut, got stuck in a conservative-holding pattern (Fat Wreck-Chords in a a nutshell) but lead singer Tim Barry escaped that trap by adopting a hard-travellin' folk-punk persoane.
  22. Furr (Blitzen Trapper)- To these ears, this sounds like 90's Canadian jangle-rockers, the Skydiggers covering John Wesley Harding era Dylan. And that's mighty good, even if they're sorta indie-rock. After all, to avoid all Pitchfuck kinda bands would merely be reverse snobbery.

Comments and counter-offers are strongly encouraged.

P.S. Hope you didn't miss "McLaughlan Groove"Andrew W.K.'s greatest contrition to humankind


  1. "Furr" is all right but it's no "A Penny More". (And why on earth do I not own "Restless"?)

  2. I'm crazy about Furr (which is a mildly pornographic kinda sentence) but "Penny More is a great song.

    Please feel free to do a search and find the Skydiggers posted here on MRML.

  3. Thx for visit my site amigo, cool blog you have here :)

    Happy New Year!, cheers and good luck from Chile!!


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